Thursday, July 04, 2013

Fired up and ready to go.

When the filing period opens at noon tomorrow, I will be in Hillsborough to file for election to the Chapel Hill Town Council.

Today, I'll be at the Eno River to join the 34th annual celebration of the Festival for the Eno.

Yesterday, spurred by events on the Senate floor on Tuesday night, I joined hundreds of others in witness to and peaceful protest of the Senate's passage of a bill that places unconstitutional restrictions on the right to safe and legal abortion in this state. This bill was rushed through the Senate without public notice, without time for deliberation, and in fact it had come from the House in the form of a bill that would outlaw the recognition of "foreign" (Sharia) law (as if the United States Constitution did not fully require that the laws of the United States be only the laws of the United States). Though we doubted we would change the outcome of the vote after the third reading yesterday morning--just as the Moral Monday protests do not measure their success by immediate outcomes--it was important be there.

Serving in municipal government rarely involves such monumental questions of fundamental constitutional rights. Local elected officials do not have the power to say yes or no to abortion regulations or Medicaid money or unemployment payments or whether to rewrite the tax laws or to allow private school vouchers. In some ways, our charge can be read narrowly: We make decisions concerning public safety, land use, and other issues fundamental to the health and welfare of our local community. But all levels of government are interrelated. And local government is up close and personal: it's where we come together to make decisions that reflect values we hold dear. We know that our values can resonate upward and outward as well.

It was a privilege to serve for two terms on the Council, from 2003 to 2011, and since my appointment in January I have been honored to step back into the good work of the Council on such important issues seeing our expanded Public Library off to a strong start, focusing attention on new ways of supporting affordable rental housing, and continuing to serve those in our community who are homeless or at risk of losing their homes. As we pursue implementation of the Chapel Hill 2020 Comprehensive Plan, I've been responsive to community members who are devoting much time and energy into discussions of the Central West planning area and the potential development of Obey Creek.

I'm proud that our work on what used to be called Lot 5 has come to fruition in the beautiful 140 West Franklin development and the associated public plaza, and I'm excited about the conversations for the future of the Rosemary Street corridor. This is an exciting time for downtown Chapel Hill, and these discussions are bringing out the best in our residents' creativity.

I look forward to the campaign, and to talking with each of you along the way about the issues that are important to you.